The New York Yankees were a mess in June. You don’t have to take my word – no less luminaries than Brian Cashman and Giancarlo Stanton agree with me and the language they used was far less kind than mine.
Their record for the month was 12 wins and 14 losses. They lost 5 of the last 6 games in the month. At one point, they lost 7 of 9.
Their roster is full of batters who hover around the Mendoza line (.200). There are others who appear way beyond their sell-by date. Let’s survey the team’s performance on the month:
We’ll begin with the individual record of the batters:
|Gio Urshela 3B||23||94||14||28||5||1||5||8||0||3||29||.298||.327||.532||.858|
|DJ LeMahieu if||26||113||12||33||5||0||4||19||0||10||12||.292||.350||.442||.792|
|Gary Sanchez c||24||83||15||24||7||0||8||19||0||11||25||,289||.372||.663||1.035|
|Giancarlo Stanton DH||24||76||10||22||1||0||5||15||0||19||23||.289||.427||.500||.927|
|Miguel Andujar lf/3B||23||78||13||21||1||0||5||9||0||6||11||.269||.318||.474||.792|
|Aaron Judge rf||24||94||17||24||4||0||5||13||0||15||30||.255||.358||.457||.815|
|Rougned Odor 2B||18||59||7||14||4||0||3||5||0||2||17||.237||.274||.458||.732|
|Brett Gardner LF/CF||24||53||9||12||3||1||3||8||1||16||14||.226||.394||.491||.885|
|Gleyber Torres ss||25||90||8||19||3||0||1||7||2||11||24||.211||.294||.278||.572|
|Luke Voit 1B||9||38||5||8||1||1||2||4||0||2||13||.211||.250||.447||.697|
|Kyle Higashioka c||8||19||2||4||0||0||1||1||0||0||6||.211||.211||.368||.579|
|Clint Frazier lf||22||51||7||10||4||0||1||8||0||13||23||.196||.379||.333||.712|
|Tyler Wade if/of||19||13||7||2||0||0||0||1||2||2||3||.154||.267||.154||.420|
|Chris Gittens 1b||10||21||1||2||0||0||1||4||0||3||9||.095||.200||.238||.438|
|Luis Cessa p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Mike Ford 1B||1||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Nestor Cortes p||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Lucas Luetge p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Aroldis Chapman p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Wandy Peralta p||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Chad Green p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Zack Britton p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Domingo German p||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000||.000||.000||.000|
|Jonathan Loaisiga p||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000||.000||.000||.000|
In April, Gary Sanchez seemed to have lost his role has the first choice starter behind the plate for the New York club. In May, Kyle Higashioka, whilst still stronger defensively wiped-out with the bat and his average crumbled. In June, one of the few bright lights was that offensively, at least, Sanchez put his game back together. He led the team in OPS and Home Runs and the fact that he was third on the month in batting average was a massive change. Higashioka remains Gerrit Cole’s catcher of choice but his batting performance disintegrated and at the moment, I would guess this is his last season in the pinstripes.
On the 17th of June, first baseman and sometime designated hitter, Mike Ford who had been having a terrible season and had cleared waivers, was traded to Tampa Bay for those old friends a “player to be named later” and “cash considerations”. With Luke Voit out injured yet again, the Yankees called up Chris Gittens and he had his chance to impress. Gittens is a so-so defensive first baseman but has been proving himself as a capable slugger at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Railriders (Triple-A) and now had his opportunity to prove he could deal with major league pitching in the same manner. Regrettably, it didn’t work out that way. He batted .095 (2 hits) and achieved his first home run in the top flight but no more. Once the Yankees knew that Luke Voit was on his way back then they reassigned Gittens (on the 21st) and the regular 1st baseman was added to the active roster the following day. In the 8 games he played, Luke did a little better than he had between his first and second spells on the injured list, batting .211 and achieving four extra base hits in quick style. The Yankees will hold Gittens in reserve and given Voit’s predilection for injuries,his time may come again.
The Yankees’ other firstbase option remains DJ Lemahieu who is still constantly switched between first base, his usual second base home and third base. If the changes in his defensive role was the thing that has unsettled his batting performance then he seems to be growing into it because in June he looked far more like the hitter he had been in 2019 and 2020. He batted .292 with 9 extra base hits on the month. However, the Yankees must be running out of justifications for keeping inserting Rougned Odor in the second base slot. Although, at first glance of our table he seems reasonably well-situated that is only because there is a chasm in the middle of the table which reveals that there are more than 50 batting average points between LeMahieu’s June performance and Odor’s. Odor still gives the Yankees some slugging power but there is little else to recommend him.
Third base is very much the possession of Gio Urshela, who sits at the head of our table for June. He also brings some power – he is second only to Sanchez in extra base hits in June. His weakness? His patience at the plate. 3 walks compared to 29 strike outs in June. Odor is pretty awful in that category too – 2 walks and 17 strikeouts. Because Urshela is great at hitting for average, he is well ahead of Odor in on-base percentage. Nothing much to adore about Odor indeed. At least Texas are still paying most of his salary.
What should the Yankees do at shortstop? Gleyber Torres, the incumbent, continues to struggle defensively and offensively. There is no question they must upgrade somewhere before the trading deadline, if they want to make the playoffs. The obvious thing to do would be to look to improve at shortstop, centrefield and bring in a new starting pitcher. If they’re going to do that then some sacrifices must be made but I really can’t figure who their trading chips are who would go in the opposite direction. The Yankees have a weak hand at the major league level and unless they are prepared to give up a substantial amount of propsects, I don’t know what their solution is.
And if the Yankees infield is under-performing let us swiftly say the same about the outfield. Aaron Hicks is gone for the season and has been a disaster since the Yankees signed him to a contract which guarantees him $10.5M p.a. from 2020-23 and a contract which runs through to 2025 at least. The senior hitter on the team, Brett Gardner (turning 38 years very soon and being paid less than half of Hicks annual salary) has therefore been pressed into action pretty much every day and it is not going well. June was a little better for him but he still only managed a .226 batting average. He has managed a little more in the power-hitting part of his game but it really would have been better for him to have retired at the end of last season. Aaron Judge‘s performance dipped slightly but his .255 batting average, 5 home runs and 4 doubles still made him a very important part of the team especially whilst so many around him were struggling.
Miguel Andujar has found his time in the line-up increase with the poor form of Clint Frazier and now whilst he is unlikely to ever see regular playing time again at third base which was his previous home, his work at leftfield has given him an opportunity to regain his previous form with the bat where he, like Judge, contributed 5 home runs in June. By comparison, Frazier’s .196 batting average and one home run makes me wonder almost everyday why the Yankees persist with this player who presents more flash and panache with his tongue than he ever does with his bat.
Like Gittens, Ryan LaMarre was a failed experiment during the short period he was promoted to fill a gap and his time on the 40-man roster came to a brief and unspectacular end.
GianCarlo Stanton joined the two aforementioned players in adding 5 home runs to the month’s total. Aaron Boone has not risked him in an outfield position despite all the deadwood the team seems to be carrying, which speaks volumes about his vulnerability to injury. His form has been solid or above and he is a player that the Yankees cannot afford to lose.